Meals and Memories

It’s almost midnight. Cranberry sauce is done, stuffing is made, turkey brining, broccoli cauliflower medley cut up, and so it goes another pre-Thanksgiving waltz. Always fun when it’s set to music, always tiring. I usually think about my late mother-in-law on this day. She taught me how to orchestrate the meal, using recipes handed down to her and morphed along the way. Years ago I begged her to write exact measurements for me so I could capture the same spice blends that she created. She struggled with the idea, but humored me with pretty good guesses.

Thirty years later, I haven’t veered from her courses too far. I still rub the turkey down with butter for the golden brown finish. (Olive oil on other days.) My stuffing still uses homemade stock and croutons, turkey liver and egg. (Although I use a blend of specialty breads to dry rather than her Wonder loaf.)

The side dishes have changed occasionally, as long as the broccoli is there to anchor them. Always mashed and sweet potatoes, sometimes brussels sprouts or roasted cauliflower.

I’m grateful for the shared times and recipes we had. But this year, I’m also thinking of my dad and the following changes that will be evident tomorrow at dinner, our first holiday meal since he passed:

No one will salt the entire plate first before tasting.

No one will spill wine saying “oh leave it till we’re done”.

No one will ask me to jump up for coffee before my meal is complete.

No one will come out to the kitchen and graze ALL the desserts before I serve.

No one will ask to take back the pie they brought.

And no one will say “Well Dood, (short for Doodie, don’t ask) you did it again”.

Here’s to those food memories and the loved ones they honor. Hope my in-laws set a place for Dad this year. It’s the same recipes you know.